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March 06, 2019

Three free agents who make sense for the Eagles, version 3.0

Eagles NFL

The Philadelphia Eagles are heading into an offseason where they could see some prominent players move on from the team. Due to salary cap constraints, they cannot go on a massive spending spree this offseason like they have done in the past under Howie Roseman, however, it also not expected that they'll sit on the sidelines either. They will absolutely sign players.

Here are three free agents I believe make sense for the Birds this offseason. To note, if you're looking for guys like Le'Veon Bell, Jadeveon Clowney or Earl Thomas to appear here, I personally don't think that's realistic.

T.J. Yeldon, RB Jaguars, 25 (6'1, 223)

The last time we looked at three free agents who make sense for the Eagles, we included Falcons running back Tevin Coleman, who is a good receiver, and who has low mileage because he was used as a complementary back alongside Devonta Freeman. Yeldon was used similarly in Jacksonville, playing behind Leonard Fournette.

First, a look at Yeldon's rushing numbers: 

 T.J. YeldonRush Yards YPC TD 
 2015182 740 4.1 
 2016130 465 3.6 
 201749 253 5.2 
 2018104 414 4.0 

And his receiving numbers:

T.J. Yeldon Rec Yards YPC TD 
 201536 279 7.8 
 201650 312 6.2 
 201730 224 7.5 
 201855 487 8.9 

Yeldon is a bigger back, and has similar measurables to Jay Ajayi, at 6'1, 223. In 3rd- and 4th-and-short situations over his career, Yeldon has 22 carries for 90 yards (12 first downs) and 3 TDs. That's a small sample size for a back who has been in the league for four years, but it's certainly a major step up from what Josh Adams provided in 2018. He also has 9 catches for 69 yards (8 first downs) in those short yardage situations.

A look at what he does:

Yeldon would be a more affordable option than Coleman, who could come into Philly a be part of a rotation, along with Corey Clement and perhaps a rookie draft pick.

Chris Conley, WR, Chiefs, 26 (6'3, 205)

Conley was a third-round pick of the Chiefs in 2015 when Doug Pederson was still the offensive coordinator in Kansas City. He's big (6'3, 205) and is an extremely gifted athlete: 

At the 2015 Combine, Conley ran a 4.35 40, and he had both the best vertical jump and broad jump of any receiver competing at the Combine since 2000.

In Kansas City, Conley's career was slowed by an Achilles tear in 2017, and the addition of Sammy Watkins to an already loaded offense in 2018. Conley's career numbers:

 Chris ConleyRec Yards YPC TD 
 201517 199 12.4 
 201644 530 12.0 
 201711 175 15.9 
 201832 334 10.4 

Conley is thought of as an excellent blocker, and could be a sleeper in this free agent class, who can fill something of a fourth receiver role.

MORE: Report: Eagles restructure Lane Johnson's contract to free up more salary cap space | Eagles trade rumors: A look at Michael Bennett and Duke Johnson

Glover Quin, S, Lions, 33 (6'0, 207)

Quin is a ten-year NFL veteran who hasn't missed a game in a decade, who was released by the Lions this offseason because he was set to count for nearly $8 million on their cap. I believe he would make a lot of sense as a third safety replacement for Corey Graham, who played in his 12th season last year for the Eagles.

As we've pointed out repeatedly here, Jim Schwartz likes his safeties to have cornerback experience in their backgrounds, and Quin applies. In fact, Schwartz signed him in free agency back in 2013.

Quin lost playing time in a new regime under Matt Patricia last year, but he was a very productive player in 2017, totaling 84 tackles, 3 INTs (including a pick 6), and 4 forced fumbles. Here are highlights from that season (music NSFW):

As a third safety in the Eagles' defense, he would be a significant upgrade over Graham, and wouldn't count toward the compensatory pick formula since he was released by Detroit.

To note, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Quin is reportedly contemplating retirement if a solid enough offer does not present itself. As in, he's not just going to continue to play for some sort of veteran minimum contract. From the Eagles' perspective, if the 2019 NFL Draft comes and goes and the team doesn't draft a safety, perhaps Quin would take something of a discount to play for Schwartz on a team with realistic Super Bowl aspirations?

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